What is it?
An important stride forward on Peugeot’s path towards not being the whipping boy in Europe, the 508 is a much more solid and classy saloon than we’d have struggle to believe possible not all that long ago. This is a genuine Mondeo rival in terms of quality, drivability and equipment, and that subtle but undeniably attractive stylinggives it a head start we’d say. There’s even a class-first diesel hybrid version, giving eye-opening performance and headturning economy. It works well.
The 508 shares its chassis with the competent and comfortable Citroen C5. The suspension is different though, with MacPherson struts up front and an independent multi-link rear (all models bar the 2.2-litre HDI GT, which gets more technical front wishbones to deal with the extra weight).
Either way, the 508 is firm without being uncomfortable and feels reasonably composed and stable when tipped into a fast, tightening corner. On faster, undulating roads it maintains a steady serenity reminiscent of far pricier products. Its steering is well weighted, too, and it is accurate enough to position the 508 deftly around the road and encourage its driver to grow in confidence.
After a period spent in the dynamic doldrums, the posh Peugeot could be embarking on a comeback, but the weightier 2.2 diesel is not the driver’s choice.
On the inside
Full marks to Peugeot for hauling itself back into the game with this interior, which is a tidy blend of its own in-house design cues and a more generic (but reassuringly so) Germanic quality. The driver interface is intuitive and there is a refreshing absence of fiddly buttons around the centre console.
There is no denying that Peugeot has tried very hard to bring this cabin up to current standards and it’s done a pretty good job of it. Out of everyday sight there are some brittle bits of yesteryear Peugeot plastic, but the overall impression is of a new dawn for the French firm.
The 508 is definitely on the affordable side in comparison with slightly more desirable fare like Passats and Insignias, but no bargain against the competitively priced and far more spacious Ford Mondeo. The USP for the 508 will be its excellent range of diesels, which are economical and efficient, making this car a shoo-in for lease- hire and company-car schemes. Residual values are likely to be middling at best, though, so it’s a risky private buy. Hedge your bets with a low-CO2 diesel — although the HYbrid4 officially emits just 95g/km CO2, giving big tax benefits, there’s also the not-so-small matter of its £31,450 list price...